Sitting in my office at work, far from the mountains of Lebanon, I am looking at a frame with the words printed on it, “He makes all things new”. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for making me new. I can get very comfortable in my small, controllable, predictable world. Prior to the trip, I had been trying to keep the renewing words and promises of God speckled throughout my day, but sometimes it takes removing myself from all things controllable and familiar to enlarge my understanding of God and the world that He created. This trip was just that – a letting go of my own agenda and being open to what God had prepared for me on each day of the trip. There were certainly many surprises along the way, but God always provided the right words or people to supply the need.
In the Beirut airport my stomach was doing flip flops as we stood in lines for luggage, customs and visas – wondering, how on earth we would have gotten through all of this without a fluent Arabic speaker (Thank you Lord for Tim!). Everything looked, smelled, and felt different. So the first moment of seeing the Boucher family waving to us over the crowd was a wash of relief. It was God reminding me that He is with us always and has gone before us! The trip was marked daily with scenic beauty, excellent Mediterranean food, kind faces and smiles, laughing and running boys, and a sense of familiarity. In Texas, I am used to being able to pick up at least parts of a conversation in Spanish; however, in Lebanon the only word I understood was, ‘yalla!’ (come on, let’s go!) and ‘shukran’ (thank you). Despite my lack of communication skills, the language that was easily communicated with kind smiles and welcoming gestures was that of hospitality – which the Lebanese speak fluently! We were given instant approval as part of the staff at Dar el Awlad and welcomed in as part of a faith family.
It is difficult for me to put into words what the experience has meant to me and how it will impact our day-to-day living, but I know that the Lord will reveal that to us in time. One of the most poignant memories I have from the trip is meeting our sponsored child, Hadi. He is ten years old and comes from a very large Syrian-refugee family. He has a big smile and a warm heart that craves adult attention and approval. I wonder how God will continue to grow and use this relationship. I’m so thankful that God’s imagination and plan is infinitely greater than mine and I look forward to being surprised by it : ) I was also grateful to spend time with some of the older boys at Dar el Awlad that were now in high school, college, and working in the community. I was continually impressed by the kindness and love that they expressed to each other, the younger boys, and the house mothers. They were glowing examples of the love and grace of Christ. I am so thankful that the younger boys are able to see the ways that God has captivated their hearts and lives. The most difficult aspect of the trip was saying good-bye to friends, both new and old. It was sad to say good-bye to so many sweet and wonderful people at Dar el Awlad, not knowing when we will get to return. It was especially hard to say good-bye to the Boucher family, knowing that we won’t see them in the pews at Calvary when we return home. Their love for the boys and Lebanon was beautiful to watch and I am confident that the Lord will use them to be instruments of his love and peace. May I open my hands wide enough to allow Him to do the same in me.
~Sarah Martin Werntz